Cathy Reynolds

Cathy Reynolds, then president of the National League of Cities, speaks to reporters outside the U.S. Capitol after talking to lawmakers about about the leagues objectives, including a reduction in unfunded mandates and stronger crime legislation on March 21, 1994.

The first woman elected to the Denver City Council was immortalized Monday with the naming of the council chamber in the Denver City and County Building as “The Cathy Reynolds Chamber.”

The City Council unanimously approved the name change Monday, less than two weeks before the one-year anniversary of Reynolds’ death at 76 years old.

"Our only regret is that she is not with us to see this happen,” said Councilman Kevin Flynn, who co-sponsored the name change. “We were looking a couple of years ago for a place to recognize Cathy’s contributions … because of the variety, the breadth, the depth of her accomplishments, what better place than the room in which they occurred?”

Reynolds was first elected to the council in 1975 and went on to be re-elected for a total of seven terms. This makes her the longest continuous council member in Denver's history, serving 28 years and 21 days as an at-large member. During that time, Reynolds was elected as council president four times and president pro-tem eight times.

Reynolds helped lead major city policies including one of the nation’s first gay rights laws in 1990, Denver’s ban on assault-style firearms in 1989, revisions to neighborhood zoning regulations that prevented unmarried adults from living together and a mill levy for services for people with developmental disabilities.

Reynolds also played a role in the conception and/or financing of the Colorado Convention Center, former Convention Center Hotel, Denver International Airport, Coors Field, the Denver Broncos stadium and the former Pepsi Center.

“She was an inspiration to all of us,” said Councilwoman Deborah Ortega, who co-sponsored the name change. “She was an incredible individual who was a mentor to all of us newbies. … She truly was an individual who brought a lot of knowledge and was always willing to sit down and answer questions and offer her wisdom.”

Outside of the council, Reynolds served as president of the National League of Cities, president of the Colorado Municipal League, a charter member of Denver’s Citizen Oversight Board and a 28-year board member of the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

Dozens of people spoke during the public hearing for the name change Monday, with speakers including many former city council members and politicians, some who flew in from Portland, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., to speak.

Reynolds’ husband Rick and sons Matt and Bob were also present during the public hearing. During his speech, Rick recounted his wife’s answer when asked if she’d ever like to be famous.

“In her own words … ‘I’ve had about all the celebrity I can handle from one time or another. What I’d like to be known for would be kindness, generosity and good humor. I’ll never know,’” Rick said.

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